No 11 flat refurb: Lord Geidt criticises PM but says he did not deliberately mislead

Boris Johnson has been criticised by his ethics adviser for acting “unwisely” but cleared of being deliberately misleading during an investigation into the funding of his Downing Street flat refurbishment.

The prime minister apologised for failing to disclose crucial messages after facing questions from Lord Geidt over an undeclared WhatsApp exchange with a Tory peer who funded a makeover of the No 11 residencia.

In an initial inquiry last Spring, Geidt reported Johnson insisted he knew nothing of the payments until “immediately prior” to newspaper reports in February 2021. Geidt cleared Johnson of wrongdoing, though said he had acted “unwisely”.

sin embargo, a subsequent report compiled by the Electoral Commission unearthed that Johnson messaged the man behind the payments, David Brownlow, en noviembre 2020 asking him to authorise further refurbishments to the flat.

The discrepancy prompted a senior Labour MP to allege Johnson “may have lied”, and Geidt sought an explanation from the prime minister in several letters exchanged over the past month.

los Conservadores were fined £17,800 in December for not reporting the £52,801 the party received via Lord Brownlow’s company (Huntswood Associates Ltd).

Johnson blamed not sharing the WhatsApp message with Geidt on having changed phone numbers, saying he “did not have access to my previous device and did not recall the message exchange”.

Geidt, who is the government’s independent adviser on ministerial interests, said he had concluded his initial finding Johnson did not break the ministerial code still stood: “The new disclosure did not in fact result in change to my original assessment of your interests insofar as they related to the ministerial code.”

sin embargo, Geidt made clear his disdain at not having been given all the evidence originally and is expected to push to be given greater powers in subsequent investigations.

He said the episode “shook my confidence precisely because potential and real failures of process occurred in more than one part of the apparatus of government”.

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